It used to be that concrete was thought of as a humble building material, suited to industrial spaces like warehouses. But as Bob Dylan says, times are a changin’. Concrete has quickly become one of the hottest materials used in modern homes around the world, with New Zealand designers and architects taking to the trend with gusto. And we’re not just talking about the floor finish here…concrete is now being seen in everything from lamp shades to bathroom taps.
So what’s the appeal? Concrete is edgy, industrial and unassuming. It looks great indoors and out, and it’s incredibly versatile. It can be polished to achieve a sophisticated look popular in minimalist interiors, or it can be kept matte for a rough-luxe appeal that is gaining traction.
“We’re seeing concrete being used more in its raw state, which gives it an organic feel…this works in beautifully with natural materials such as wood,” says Richard Miller, architectural advisor for Escea.
We give you five ways to work concrete into your interior.
When it comes to floors concrete is a practical choice. Hard-wearing, durable and easy to keep clean, it works especially well in high-traffic spaces, like kids playrooms and kitchens, where it can handle spilled milk and dropped toys (although the toys might not come off so well).
Concrete has a bad rap for being cold, but as a thermal mass it has the ability to absorb sunlight, which means it can slowly release heat over the day – unlike carpet or timber.
Home Builder Haven installed polished concrete floors into this inner city family home for a clean modern look. To contrast and warm up the space, Interior designer Tina Stephens of Roomie incorporated lots of wood, bright colour and greenery. Matte black feature walls off-set the gloss of the concrete perfectly.
Concrete’s cool and solid finish is a beautiful foil to dancing orange flames. This architecturally designed home uses a double sided Escea DX1500 fireplace set in a floating concrete hearth to divide the large, open plan space. The strong lines of the solid concrete surround give the home an industrial edge. The neutral grey of concrete is the perfect backdrop for pops of bright colour, such as the red chairs used here.
3. Ceilings and Walls
Though concrete on the ceiling and walls is at risk of looking harsh, when done well the move seriously pays off. Architect Ink’s award winning ‘Plane Tree House’ balances natural light, warm materials and an Escea DL1100 gas fire to give the space a homely feel.
Here’s an example of how to get the concrete look without pouring concrete. The home of Waikato architect Jamie Merriman features a large format Italian tile called ‘Industry Raw’ for a weathered concrete-look splashback. “We wanted to create a focal point of interest that contrasted well with the monochrome kitchen scheme,” explains Jamie. “Being tile it’s also easier to clean than glass.”
Carry the concrete theme through your home with these edgy and industrial concrete pieces. Bunker Bell Pendant Light by New Zealander designer Christ Johnson and concrete cube stools, found at Indie Home Collective.